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A Brief History of Hemp in the United States

To call cannabis’ relationship with the law complicated is an understatement. It all started with the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937.  Penned by anti-cannabis activist Harry Anslinger, this piece of legislation made it extremely difficult for the hemp industry to thrive. The law required that heavy taxes would be placed on hemp farmers as well as physicians who prescribed cannabis products to their patients.

The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was passed after several years of anti-cannabis propaganda had made its way into the mainstream consciousness. Many people believe that William Randolph Hearst was largely behind the public’s growing concerns about cannabis.  The widely accepted belief is that Hearst wanted to put an end to hemp production. Why?  Because of the fact that this natural substance was cultivated for the production of paper. Having invested large amounts of money into the timber industry, hemp production was eating into his profits.

In 1970, the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 was repealed. In response, Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act, allowing the CSA to give cannabis a Schedule I classification.  According to the CSA, cannabis had no known medicinal benefits and was an illicit drug.  The problem with this classification was that it applied to both hemp and marijuana (different species of the cannabis plant).

  • Marijuana, as we all know, contains a high level of THC, a compound known for its intoxicating effect.
  • Hemp contains less than 0.3 percent THC, meaning that it’s incapable of getting a user high.
  • Both Marijuana and Hemp are Cannabis plants. The only difference between the two is the legal limit of THC allowed in the hemp plant – less than 0.3% D9 THC.
  • We have to recognize that the both plants are abundant in natural compounds with varying amounts of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavinoids.
  • Both Low THC and High THC ratios of hemp and marijuana can provide medicinal and therapeutic effects.

2014 Farm Bill

Former President Barack Obama signed the 2014 Farm Bill.  This bill allowed hemp farmers to cultivate their crops for research purposes only.  In order to be allowed to grow hemp, farmers had to obtain legal permission and comply with the individual state’s laws regarding the cultivation of cannabis.

The 2014 Farm Bill removed hemp from the list of controlled substances by acknowledging the differences between hemp and marijuana.  But, hemp farmers found it difficult to obtain the state’s permission to grow their crops.  Additionally, the bill still prohibited the production of hemp for commercial use.

The Great CBD Boom

What the 2014 Farm Bill did accomplish was the start of a boom in the hemp industry.  Because hemp farmers could now cultivate their crops for research purposes, many notable universities and medical researchers were able to analyze the numerous potential benefits of cannabidiol (CBD), a major cannabinoid that is found within the hemp plant.

These studies are responsible for the current popularity of cannabidiol within the natural health industry.  Researchers have made some incredible discoveries that support the argument that CBD is safe and beneficial to one’s health.  It has been discovered that CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, supplementing it with cannabinoids that help the body maintain homeostasis.

The federal restrictions on the cultivation of hemp had made it difficult for hemp farmers to manufacture their products for commercial use. However, a new piece of legislation changed that forever.

The Hemp Farming Act of 2018

Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell was always advocating for the full legalization of hemp cultivation for quite some time.  In fact, it’s no surprise that a senator from Kentucky would be behind this bill.  Kentucky was one of the first states to see large profits from hemp cultivation after the passing of the 2014 Farm Bill.  Many people to this day still speculate that McConnell has personal investments in the hemp farms across his home state.

McConnell’s interest in the hemp plant isn’t just about the CBD industry.  He had argued that hemp is an incredibly useful crop that is capable of lowering the costs of textile and paper manufacturing.

So, he and a handful of other senators penned the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill).  The bill finally allowed hemp farmers to cultivate their crops for commercial use rather than for research purposes only.

This bill’s primary intention was to promote the CBD industry in particular by emphasizing this particular cannabinoid in its language.  Essentially, it determined that extracts derived from the hemp plant are not illicit substances and are therefore suitable for commercial use.  According to the bill, hemp can be grown responsibly if it’s subjected to regular testing for THC levels.  If the hemp that has been tested has 0.3 percent THC or less, it’s perfectly suitable for commercial use on a federal level.

What’s on the Horizon for This Industry?

Since the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp enthusiasts have since, seen this legalization of hemp open doors in the medical industry.  Hence, becoming more accepting of this plant-based product.  Down the road, it may even become more commonplace to receive a CBD prescription from a primary care physician, and hopefully, we’ll see insurance coverage for this plant medicine.

Now that cannabidiol has become so popular, natural health enthusiasts are able to purchase hemp-derived CBD products easily.  Today, this market is at an all-time high.  People can purchase CBD tinctures, vapes, edibles, capsules, flowers, dabs, and even topicals. Because it is so readily available, we recommend you do your research on all hemp CBD products before purchasing them. Ensure that products are tested for safety and potency.

Check out this helpful blog for choosing a CBD product for you –

With such a complicated history, it’s no surprise that many are confused about the legal status of hemp.  However, those who are for the use of CBD and other hemp products believe that this incredible cannabinoid will continue to see new heights of mainstream acceptance as we continue to normalize plant medicine.

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